Preparation for Turfgrass Recovery

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September 21, 2018 at 9:10 am Category: , , ,

Prevent Injuries to Turfgrass and Promote Recovery

As we move into fall and look towards the off-season, the actions taken prior to winter can have a serious affect on turf health come spring. Grounds managers and golf course superintendents share many of the same concerns when it comes to preparation for turfgrass recovery. Questions come to mind like, “Are there any warning signs for potential damage?” and “How can I improve my turf management program?”

While we ponder these questions, we wanted to connect you with the experts.

FROM THE PRO’S is a collection of thoughts from some of Reinders turfgrass experts — Steve Abler (Wisconsin), Joe Churchill & Arik Hemquist (Minnesota), and Mike Maas & Ryan Benson (Kansas).

Depending on the region you live and work in, your turf activity is likely to differ. Utilize the tips and advice from the rep(s) who are dedicated to turf management in your geographic location. For specific product recommendations, please visit Reinders.com or contact your local rep. 

1. Are there any warning signs that may indicate potential damage?

When an issue with your turf arises, it’s best to take action immediately. If you can detect symptoms or warning signs prior to any disease or damage taking effect, you’ll be even better off.

It’s not the easiest task in the business as many turfgrass diseases often resemble one another in their early stages, making it difficult to accurately diagnose initial warning signs. Consider the tips below when you’re surveying the course for areas of concern. 

FROM THE PRO’S …

Change in turf color, mostly look out for a bluish tint that would indicate drought stress or grub activity. Irregularities in turf appearance that would indicate potential disease activity, irrigation issues or heavy soil compaction. Decline in turf density.

Joe Churchill (MN)

Always keep close eye on finely manicured turf areas. Irregular color, patterns of weak looking turf, and visible fungal mycelium are all alerts one should investigate. Inspect root vigor and soil profile for additional red flags.

Ryan Benson (KS)

Scout for grub damage — turf will peel up like carpet. If grubs are found, use a product like Dylox for immediate control or Arena for long-term control.

Mike Maas (KS)
Grub Damage

2. Leading into the off-season, how should I adjust my routine?

Most importantly — take advantage of fall conditions. Our reps unanimously agree that fall is the ideal time of the year for nearly all turf management practices. Establishing a solid plant health program prior to the onset of winter will help strengthen your turf for the long haul. 

FROM THE PRO’S …

August to September is the best time to perform any maintenance to grass. Take advantage of warmer soil temperatures & fertilize in the fall. As the sun's angle gets lower, trees may need to be trimmed in areas of restricted sunlight.

Steve Abler (WI)

The best time to perform most turf management functions is mid-August to September 30. Following a good plant health program prior to the onset of winter will help strengthen turf by replenishing carbohydrates and regenerating a depleted root system. A final fertilizer application in September will help replenish lost carbohydrate reserves within the plant.

Joe Churchill (MN)

May want to maintain increased height of cut, increase aerification aggressiveness, and provide water/fertility for newly established seedlings.

Ryan Benson (KS)

3. What are some of the most common turfgrass injuries & diseases that you see in the Midwest?

Battling turfgrass diseases is a staple of life as a turf manager. In maintaining a natural landscape, you’re forced to react in many cases, whether it be a period of extreme heat, a late snowfall or rain washing out bunkers.

When dealing with turf disease and injury, it’s possible to get ahead of the problem before it becomes unmanageable. It helps to understand the symptoms of common diseases which leads to a more accurate diagnosis and effective solution. 

Over time, you’ll become more accustomed to recognizing the early stages of turfgrass diseases. As is the case with many aspects of life, expertise is developed through experience. 

Turf Disease 4x4 photo

FROM THE PRO’S …

Snow Mold, Take-all Patch.

Steve Abler (WI)

Summer patch, Ascochyta, dollar spot, foliar rust, some red thread.

Joe Churchill (MN)

Brown patch, dollar spot, Anthracnose, Pythium and Pythium Root Rot.

Ryan Benson (KS)

We have seen the most issues related to drought. Brown patch has also ravaged fescue this year.

Mike Maas (KS)

4. What should be done throughout winter to ensure my turf is healthy and thriving come spring?

Not much — which is a good thing. Monitor moisture levels going into winter and take preventative steps to avoid cold temperature damage and winter kill. 

FROM THE PRO’S …

Put the grass to bed in November – don’t do anything unless you have ice, and only remove ice if you know there is no oxygen. If you're dealing with ice for longer than 75 days, clear snow off. Use a light dusting of Milorganite to help attract sunlight & melt the ice.

Steve Abler (WI)

Pray. Not much more can be done when the turf is under 3 feet of snow. And that’s a good thing.

Joe Churchill (MN)

Allow free moving water during melting periods to exit fine turf as quickly as possible. Auger holes and open drains to remove water from turf. In an open winter the use of snow fences, brush, topdressing can be used to help alleviate cold temperature damage and winter kill.

Arik Hemquist (MN)

Adequate moisture in the late fall months is important. Great time to do irrigation prep for next year — repair heads, check coverage. Make sure to continue to keep traffic spread out across turf areas.

Mike Maas (KS)

In higher-cut cool season turf, high N applied in dormancy will give turf a needed boost in the spring. Monitor moisture levels going into winter.

Ryan Benson (KS)
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5. How can I improve my turf management program?

Successful operations often look within for opportunities to improvement. In dealing with Mother Nature, a lot of a course’s strategy and execution is dependent on weather, environmental conditions and golf schedule.

Much of what influences a maintenance operation is out of your control. Dedicate your time and energy to those aspects you have control over, and don’t over-exert yourself. Regardless of the success you’ve had over the previous year, it’s a smart idea to perform a management program “audit” of sorts.

You most likely dealt with a lot of unpredictability, however, where could you have spent more time? What do you wish you’d made a priority? 

FROM THE PRO’S …

Focus on plant health care! Proper fertility, continuous reseeding, core aeration, judicious watering and other cultural controls will help reduce the need for pesticides and create a healthy turf that can fend for itself.

Joe Churchill (MN)

Always document areas where disease or insect pressure was greatest and make sure to utilize that for next year. An important aspect of an integrated pest management program is reducing overall inputs and creating better quality turf.

Mike Maas (KS)

Analyze environmental conditions, as moisture & temperature can dictate timing of maintenance routines. These often vary from year to year, so it's essential to adjust plan of action accordingly.

Ryan Benson (KS)

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Steve Abler | @SteveAbler

Steve Abler | @SteveAbler

Turf Sales - Territory Manager (WI)

Joe Churchill | @JoeTurf

Joe Churchill | @JoeTurf

Turf Sales - Territory Manager (MN)

Arik Hemquist | @ArikHemquist

Arik Hemquist | @ArikHemquist

Turf Sales - Territory Manager (MN)

Mike Maas | @MichaelJMaas

Mike Maas | @MichaelJMaas

Turf Sales - Territory Manager (MO & KS)

Ryan Benson

Ryan Benson

Turf Sales - Territory Manager (MO & KS)

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